Saturday, October 13, 2012

How To Make And Can Sugar-Free Applesauce

Applesauce is easy to make and so delicious!
At 56 calories per 1/2 cup, it's a perfect snack or dessert.

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Apples All Around
Last weekend we were at the Sonoma County Harvest Fair and saw lots of beautiful apples. If there are apples ripening where you live, it's a perfect time to load up and make some applesauce for the winter.

We were able to taste many different apples at the fair.

We're also lucky to have a Fuji apple tree that just presented us with some very sweet, ripe apples. We stored the good ones in the crisper drawer in the refrigerator (some say you should place a slightly damp paper towel over them - I'll give that a try). But we had some with worm holes and other damaged spots. Since we didn't want to contaminate the good ones (you've heard the old adage, "one bad apple...."),  we used those for making applesauce.

Our first harvest of Fuji apples from our young tree.

You Don't Need Sugar
Sugar isn't necessary for canning applesauce. Sweet apples like Fuji's surely don't require it. You can always add sugar, stevia, cinnamon or nutmeg when you serve it so by canning it without sweeteners or seasonings you have more options on how you use the applesauce. For example, we use it to replace some of the oil in baking. If a recipe calls for 1/2 cup of oil, we use 1/4 cup of oil and 1/4 cup of unsweetened applesauce.

Making Applesauce
There are several ways of making applesauce. Some cook the apples without peeling them and then put them through a sieve or food mill in order to eliminate the seeds and peel. 
I don't have a food mill so today I'm doing it all by hand.

Before starting, fill your hot water canner and start heating it. They are big and take a long time to bring to a boil.

Peel, core and dice the apples. Each quart of diced apples (about one and one half pounds before peeling) produces 1 pint of applesauce.  This of course could vary with the type of apples you use and how finely you dice them.
Place the diced apples in a large pot with a tiny bit of water to prevent sticking.
For 6 quarts of diced apples I used 1/2 cup of water.

Peel, core and dice the apples.
Place in a large pot with some water.

Keeping the Apples from Browning
As soon as you place each quart of diced apples in the pot, sprinkle a tablespoon of Fruit Fresh Produce Protector on the apples and stir well. Besides it keeping the applesauce from browning, it adds significant amounts of vitamin C (each 1/4 teaspoon provides 230% of the daily requirement). Of course some amount of the vitamin C will be destroyed during the canning process but if you add 1 tablespoon per quart of diced apples, that's 3/4 of a teaspoon per serving or 690% of the daily requirement so even if some gets destroyed you should still get plenty of this important antioxidant vitamin.

Sprinkle produce protector on the apples to prevent browning.

Bring the apples to a boil and cook until they soften. The time will depend on the type of apples and how many are in the pot. It took me over 30 minutes to cook my apples.
Cover the pot to shorten the time and stir frequently.

Cook apples until they get really soft.

Once they are soft, you can either mash them to the desired consistency with a potato masher or a hand held immersion blender.

Immersion blenders work well to achieve the desired consistency.
I blended mine until it was nice and smooth.

Once you reach the desired consistency you are ready to can.
I blended mine until it was nice and smooth but you can leave big chunks in it too.
At this point, if you prefer, you can add seasonings like cinnamon or nutmeg or stevia, sugar or other sweeteners. 

Wash the jars, new lids (never reuse them) and bands in hot, soapy water and rinse. Keep them in a saucepan with hot water and simmer until ready to use.

Ladle the hot applesauce into the hot jars leaving 1/2 inch of headspace. Make sure you remove any air bubbles that form.

Clean the rim of the jar with a clean damp towel.
Place the lids on the jars and screw the bands on but not too tight.
Using a jar lifter, place the jar in a hot water canner.
Process pints from 0 to 1,000 feet altitude for 15 minutes, quarts for 20 minutes.
Process pints from 1,001 ft to 3,000 feet altitude for 20 minutes, quarts for 25 minutes.

Hot water canner.

Jar lifter.

After processing, remove the jars using a jar lifter and cool on a rack.
Let them cool completely before handling.
Write the contents and date on the lids with a magic marker and store in a cool place.

Enjoy all winter long!


Fiona said...

Yum! I agree, applesauce is so good as is, there's no need to add sugar. We picked a bushel of apples here in Maine this fall, and most of them went into applesauce. We also picked raspberries, some of which ended up in a batch of raspberry applesauce :)
I froze much of my applesauce, because I had never been sure if it is OK to do hot water bath canning if no sugar has been added to the applesauce. Does the natural sugar of the apples help with preserving, in place of added sugar?
Thanks for all your wonderful posts and recipes!

Dr. Joanne L. Mumola Williams said...

Hi Fiona,
According to the National Center for Home Food Preservation, sugar is not required for the safe canning of applesauce. Here are their directions
Thanks for your comments!